JUDICIARY IS THE ONLY HOPE OF THE COMMON MAN- Joe Egwu

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Contrary to the negative thoughts many people are
having about the Nigerian judicial system, a legal luminary based in Ika land
and the  present chairman, Nigeria Bar.
Association, Agbor branch, Joe Egwu has said that the judiciary still remains
the only hope of the common man, as it is the only arm of government in Nigeria
that has refused to give in to corruption. The vocal and Owa-Alizomor born
lawyer, who spoke to Ika Weekly in his office in Boji-Boji, Owa, on Friday,
25th January, 2013 bares his mind on vital issues that  bother most particularly on human rights, the
unrelenting effort of the judiciary towards the development of Nigeria, and on
the need for political office holders to live above board by serving the
interest of the people.

Excerpts.

It is a pleasure meeting you sir, can you please
introduce yourself?

I am Barr. Joe Egwu. I was born in the 1960s, at
Boji-Boji, Owa, Ika Northeast Local Government Area, Delta State. I
attended  Okundaye Primary School,
Boji-Boji, Owa, from there I moved to Gbenoba Grammar School, Agbor, but
eventually obtained my West African Examination results at Owanta Mixed
Secondary School, Owanta. After my secondary education, I went to Obafemi
Awolowo University, OAU, Ife, formerly known as University of Ife, where I got
a degree in Law in 1993. I did my one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)
at Ede Local Government Council, in  Osun
State between 1995 and 1996, I was called to the Nigeria Bar, on the 22nd of March,
1995. Since 1996, I have been involved in active practice as a Lawyer. I have
held positions in Nigerian Bar Association, both at the local and national
levels. Currently by the special grace of God, I am the NBA chairman, Agbor
branch.

Which particular village in Ika land do you come from.?

I am from Owa-Alizomor, Ika Northeast Local Government
Area. Both my father and mother are from Owa-Alizomor. I am from late Mr. Mark
Ujor Egwu’s family. My father is from Ileme quarters, Owa-Alizomor while my
mother is from Idumuose quarters.

How was your growing up.?

I grew up in Boji-Boji. The Nigeria civil war brought
my family from Benin-City to Boji-Boji, where we finally settled. During my
early days as a student, I was a regular visitor to the Delta State Library,
Agbor. I grew up with people like Chuks Ogbuobodo. Blessing Buzugbe, two of
whom are now lawyers, Mr. Emeke Iyare Iwerebor, and so many others. It was fun
then, we  were good and ambitious
children unlike youths of today who are joining cults and involving themselves
in social vices.

What
inspired you to study Law?

I was inspired with the way lawyers are treated and
respected in the society.

How long have you been practicing as a lawyer .

I have been in active practice for eighteen to
nineteen years now. Before I set up my chambers in 1998, I practiced at  Dunkwu and late Ojieh’s chambers. They
impacted good virtues in me. If you are a lawyer and have practiced  under Barrister. Dunkwu, you will know what I
am talking. He is a no nonsense man. These legal icons I mentioned impacted on
me greatly. They taught me and other lawyers who passed through them the habit
of hardwork. We were taught how to face our jobs with all seriousness.

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How was your first appearance in court as a lawyer?

My first day in court was during my NYSC days at Osun
State where I appeared before an Oshogbo High Court. As a trained lawyer, I
never exhibited any form of fear. I was bold even if it was  my first day in court. I was given
instruction of what to do in court and I did it without any problem.

What is your perception about lawyers?.

                During
our training, we were told that lawyers are crime free, hence, we should not
indulge or support crime. My interest in any case I handle is to apply legal
means that will protect my clients. According to Prof. David Ijiale, a  professor emeritus, who taught me at Ife, “a
lawyer must not win his case by all means.” It is the effort that a lawyer puts
in a case that matters. If you say that you are going to win a case at all
cost, are you the judge? Do your advocacy and everything that you know is
legally possible  and leave the rest for
the judge to decide. Your  conscience
will always tell you, that you have done your best and let the judge take the
next  decision. As a lawyer,  you have nothing to lose in a case all you
need to do is to put serious effort.

So far how has it been ?

It is ok. Like I mentioned earlier, I worked briefly
at Dunkwu and late Ojieh chambers before setting up my own chambers known as
Joe Egwu & Co. in 1998, and since then I have not regretted being a lawyer
.

What is your take on the injustices being melted out
on people everyday either by corrupt political leaders or institutions who are
using the fortunes of others to enrich themselves?

I will start with the Nigeria Police. The duty of the
police as we all know is to protect lives and property. Unfortunately,  the activities of police in Agbor, calls  for serious concern, whether they are truly
protecting lives or violating the rights of the Nigerian citizens. I will say
with greatest respect, the present Inspector General of Police,  Mr. Mohammed Abubakar remains the best police
officer Nigeria has ever had since independence. As a human right activist, I
have had the opportunity of meeting him. I will say it without fear or favour
that Mr. Abubakar is not a corrupt man. He does not encourage bribe, and if he
hears, that you collect any money from anybody as bribe, you will be in
trouble. I was particularly marveled when he 
came to Agbor Police Station some years ago on mufti. He left his car
somewhere and came with a motorcycle. I knew what he did that day because I was
at the police station. It is a pity that Mr. Abubakar’s effort has not been
fully complemented. He has been doing his best to reposition the police; to
ensure he restored the battered image of the police. Whether good or bad, the
Inspector General of Police should be commended for the good job he is doing.
Unfortunately, police officers who are posted to Ika land see themselves as
demi-gods and have no respect for anybody. There is a pathetic story about one
Chukwuiken Okebuno, a driver  from
Onitcha Olona. This man has a financial problem after losing his two brothers
on the same day and his mother in the same year. Because of  these challenge, he failed to pay back the
monies he borrowed from a money lender and also from a meeting which he is a
member. The  meeting people reported him
to the police and he was locked up. When I met with him,  told me that he is tired of live as the
meeting people are using both police and army to harass him. Do you know that
this man was arrested  and detained on
the instruction of the police.? Not only that, they seized his Ciena Bus which
he used in working, all because he did not pay interest for one month. I went
to the police to secure his release but the divisional police officer walked me
out of his office, saying that I can go to hell. I must  commend the military who when  the matter was brought to them handled it  maturely by not arresting the man. As I speak
with you now, the man is languishing at Agbor Prison. He was charged with the
crime of advanced fee fraud and other related offences. We have applied for his
bail and I am going to do the case free of charge. I do not know him before, he
is not  my brother or friend, but I want
to tell his meeting people that what they did was completely wrong. I always
feel very sad when I see things going wrong. As a lawyer and the NBA chairman,
Agbor branch, I am going to  take the
police to court to determine whether they can collect bribe or not because I
have had instances where money was collected from some persons under  the guise that they are  doing their job. I will continue to say the
right thing no matter whose ox is gored. Ika land is an agrarian community, our
people have no  money, why should the police
be exploiting them. I must use this opportunity to commend the former DPO of
Agbor Police, who is now Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sikiru Akande, for
the good works he did when he was serving in Agbor. I pray that he will get to
the peak  of his career like Mr.
Abubakar, because  when people like
Akande occupy the office of the Inspector General of Police, Nigeria will be
better. Sikiru Akande is a replica  of
Mohammed Abubakar, I am not afraid to say it. When he was serving in Agbor,
every morning, he takes inventory of people in the cell, if it is a simple
offence and bail has not been granted, he will asked why. We will continue to
protect our institutions, we will not allow corrupt people in our midst to
destroy it.

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encourage bribe, and if he hears, that you collect any
money from anybody as bribe, you will be in trouble. I was particularly
marveled when he  came to Agbor Police
Station some years ago on mufti. He left his car somewhere and came with a
motorcycle. I knew what he did that day because I was at the police station. It
is a pity that Mr. Abubakar’s effort has not been fully complemented. He has
been doing his best to reposition the police; to ensure he restored the
battered image of the police. Whether good or bad, the Inspector General of
Police should be commended for the good job he is doing. Unfortunately, police
officers who are posted to Ika land see themselves as demi-gods and have no
respect for anybody. There is a pathetic story about one Chukwuiken Okebuno, a
driver  from Onitcha Olona. This man has
a financial problem after losing his two brothers on the same day and his
mother in the same year. Because of 
these challenge, he failed to pay back the monies he borrowed from a
money lender and also from a meeting which he is a member. The  meeting people reported him to the police and
he was locked up. When I met with him, 
told me that he is tired of live as the meeting people are using both
police and army to harass him. Do you know that this man was arrested  and detained on the instruction of the
police.? Not only that, they seized his Ciena Bus which he used in working, all
because he did not pay interest for one month. I went to the police to secure
his release but the divisional police officer walked me out of his office,
saying that I can go to hell. I must 
commend the military who when  the
matter was brought to them handled it 
maturely by not arresting the man. As I speak with you now, the man is
languishing at Agbor Prison. He was charged with the crime of advanced fee
fraud and other related offences. We have applied for his bail and I am going
to do the case free of charge. I do not know him before, he is not  my brother or friend, but I want to tell his
meeting people that what they did was completely wrong. I always feel very sad
when I see things going wrong. As a lawyer and the NBA chairman, Agbor branch,
I am going to  take the police to court
to determine whether they can collect bribe or not because I have had instances
where money was collected from some persons under  the guise that they are  doing their job. I will continue to say the
right thing no matter whose ox is gored. Ika land is an agrarian community, our
people have no  money, why should the police
be exploiting them. I must use this opportunity to commend the former DPO of
Agbor Police, who is now Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sikiru Akande, for
the good works he did when he was serving in Agbor. I pray that he will get to
the peak  of his career like Mr.
Abubakar, because  when people like
Akande occupy the office of the Inspector General of Police, Nigeria will be
better. Sikiru Akande is a replica  of
Mohammed Abubakar, I am not afraid to say it. When he was serving in Agbor,
every morning, he takes inventory of people in the cell, if it is a simple
offence and bail has not been granted, he will asked why. We will continue to
protect our institutions, we will not allow corrupt people in our midst to
destroy it.

 

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